I’m an avid hiker and Denver local, and in this guide, I’ll point you to the absolute best hikes near Denver!
This round-up features Colorado hiking trails for every skill level, along with a variety of destinations. See red rock formations in Morrison, mining relics in Central City, panoramic scenery in Golden, and wildlife in an urban refuge.
Further from the city, I’ll guide you to alpine lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park. This list also features the tallest waterfall near Denver, an iconic glacier hike, and so much more.
Table of Contents
- 32 Best Hikes Near Denver
- Bear Creek Trail to Panorama Point
- Red Rocks Trading Post Trail
- Red Rocks and Morrison Slide Trails
- Mount Falcon Castle Trail Loop
- Coyote Song Trail
- Meadowlark Plymouth Creek and Plymouth Mountain Trail Loop
- South Platte River Trail
- Waterton Canyon Trail
- Carpenter Peak Trail
- Eagle’s View Trail Loop
- Elk Falls and Chimney Rock Trail
- Evergreen Mountain Trail
- Genesee Mountain Trail Outer Loop
- Chavez and Beaver Brook Trail Loop
- Mount Bierstadt
- Herman Gulch Trail
- Mount Flora Trail
- St. Mary’s Glacier
- Maryland Mountain via Historic Gilpin Tramway
- Horseshoe Trail to Frazer Meadow
- Lost Lake via Hessie Trail
- Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake via Mitchell Lake Trail
- Emerald Lake
- Boulder Mesa Trail
- Mount Sanitas and Sanitas Valley Loop Trail
- Rattlesnake Gulch Trail
- Rawhide Trail
- Mount Galbraith Loop via Cedar Gulch Trail
- Windy Saddle Lookout Mountain Trail
- Apex and Enchanted Forest Trail Loop
- Sloan’s Lake Loop
- Lake Ladora and Lake Mary Loop Trail
- FAQs About Denver Hikes
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!
32 Best Hikes Near Denver
Bear Creek Trail to Panorama Point
This Idledale day hike offers some of the best views near Denver.
Bear Creek to Panorama Point is a lollipop loop that begins at Lair o’ the Bear Park. Head west to Corwina Park, then gradually climb to the summit. This is one of the most scenic hiking trails near Denver, offering incredible mountain views.
Red Rocks Trading Post Trail
Set near Red Rocks Amphitheatre, this popular trail features vibrant scenery.
🥾 Moderate | 1.5 miles | Google Maps | 30-minute drive from Denver | Cost: free
As the name suggests, Red Rocks Trading Post Trail features incredible red rock formations. Find it adjacent to the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater, one of the best things to do in Denver. Note that its proximity to this attraction causes crowds, but it’s stunning nonetheless.
Red Rocks and Morrison Slide Trails
Admire red sandstone slabs and panoramic views in Morrison’s Red Rocks Park.
🥾 Moderate | 3 miles | Google Maps | 30-minute drive from Denver | Cost: free
Like Trading Post Trail, this lollipop loop is found in Red Rocks Park. It features similar, but more dramatic views with its higher vantage points. The trail has a total elevation gain of 679 feet. Hike counterclockwise for a more gradual ascent, and watch for loose rock on your way down.
📚 Related Reading: Hiking Essentials Checklist
Mount Falcon Castle Trail Loop
Visit historic ruins and where a “Summer White House” was proposed on this unique Morrison trail.
Just south of Red Rocks lies Mount Falcon Park and the Castle Trail Loop. This challenging loop trail gains 1,745 feet in elevation. Roughly 2.5 miles in, you’ll find sheltered picnic tables, perfect for a snack break.
Continue to reach the Walker Mansion Ruins, and take the spur trail to Walker’s Dream Lookout for panoramic views. You’ll also find a large white stone at this site. It commemorates what could have been the “Summer White House” had construction followed through.
Coyote Song Trail
A mellow trail in Littleton that’s great for families, as well as new trail runners and mountain bikers.
South of Mount Falcon lies South Valley Park, home to Coyote Song Trail. Here, you’ll find interesting red rock formations and far fewer tourists. This easy lollipop loop is a great choice for families, new hikers, and beginner mountain bikers. Having wide paths, it’s also one of the best hikes near Denver for dogs.
📚 Related Reading: 21 Best Things to Do in Littleton in 2023 (By a Local)
Meadowlark Plymouth Creek and Plymouth Mountain Trail Loop
This hike provides a great overview of Deer Creek Canyon Park in Littleton.
You’ll find this double-loop at Deer Creek Canyon, one of my favorite mountain parks near Denver. It’s adjacent to South Valley Park.
The first leg of the ascent is gradual but becomes steeper at the Plymouth Creek-Meadowlark Trail intersection. Summit at the 2.5-mile mark, or take the optional spur trail to the top of Plymouth Mountain. Regardless, the views on this hike impress.
South Platte River Trail
A lengthy urban trail that runs from Chatfield State Park to Denver’s Athmar Park neighborhood.
East of Deer Creek Canyon lies Chatfield State Park. At the park’s north end, you’ll find the southern terminus of the South Platte River Trail. Many would consider this an urban hike, as it heads north all the way to Vanderbilt Park in Athmar Park.
👉 My Route Recommendation: Start at the south end and hike 2.6 miles to Breckenridge Brewery, found right off the trail. It’s one of the best breweries in Denver!
Waterton Canyon Trail
This Littleton trail is one of the best hikes near Denver for wildlife viewing.
Think you’re safe from bears when hiking near Denver? Think again! Just last fall, a family of bears was hanging out in this area near Chatfield’s south end.
It’s rare to spot bears, but expect to see a variety of wildlife on Waterton Canyon Trail. This includes its famous bighorn sheep, as well as mule deer, birds of prey, and other animals.
Carpenter Peak Trail
Hike to a scenic summit in Roxborough State Park, known for its red rock formations.
South of Chatfield lies another one of Colorado’s best state parks: Roxborough State Park. Here lie unique rock formations and the Carpenter Peak Trail. Around the half-mile mark, you’ll reach a sharp incline that gains roughly 660 feet over the course of a mile. Following this, the trail gradually climbs to the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views.
Eagle’s View Trail Loop
See all the way to Colorado Springs from this picturesque Conifer day hike.
Head further west into the mountains to experience one of my favorite hikes near Denver. This trail in Reynolds Park gains nearly all its elevation, 1,086 feet, in the first mile. Once the hard work is done, enjoy a mellow loop that leads to unbelievable scenery. From the south side, you can even see Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs.
📚 Related Reading: 23 Best Hikes Near Colorado Springs for 2023
Elk Falls and Chimney Rock Trail
Admire the Denver area’s tallest waterfall, set in Conifer’s Staunton State Park.
Like Reynolds Park, Staunton State Park is located in Conifer. Here, you’ll find the 75-foot Elk Falls, the tallest waterfall near Denver. Take this challenging trail past Chimney Rock, a unique rock spire, then up to the Elk Falls Overlook. The falls can be viewed from below, too, making this one of the most scenic hikes near Denver.
👉 Pro Tip: If you want to shorten this hike, park at the Lazy V Trailhead. This reduces the distance to 10 miles round trip.
Evergreen Mountain Trail
This popular Evergreen trail provides views of the mountain town and its surrounding peaks.
North of Staunton lies Evergreen Mountain Trail in Alderfer/Three Sisters Park. This hike is one of the best things to do in Evergreen and is loved for its rewarding views despite the moderate effort. If you’re looking for the best hikes near Denver for the whole family, pups included, this one is a great candidate.
Genesee Mountain Trail Outer Loop
Spot Golden’s bison herd on this forested, easy-to-access trail.
Genesee Park and this noteworthy loop are set north of Evergreen. The trailhead is adjacent to I-70, so traffic can be heard at the beginning and end of this trail. But as you hike into the pine forest, the noise quickly resides. Keep an eye out for the local bison herd, and always stay a safe distance from the fence line. It’s one of the best hikes near Denver for spotting wildlife.
Chavez and Beaver Brook Trail Loop
Discover a sense of wilderness on this unassuming Golden trail found directly off I-70.
Adjacent to Genesee Park lies the Chavez and Beaver Brook Trail Loop. Given the trailhead’s location right off I-70, you wouldn’t expect a sense of wilderness. But this route quickly descends 1,122 feet where no vehicle traffic can be heard. Cross creeks and watch your step in exposed areas when hiking this incredible trail.
❄️ Don’t Forget: If venturing here in the winter, microspikes are an absolute must!
One of Denver’s closest 14ers is also one of the best-suited for beginners.
Returning to Evergreen as a reference point, Mount Bierstadt is situated directly west. From I-70, take Guanella Pass Road to the trailhead, then begin your ascent up one of the best Colorado 14ers. Though rated Class 2, which requires some scrambling, this peak is many hikers’ first 14er summit — mine included!
Herman Gulch Trail
Trek to an alpine lake in Dillon, admiring meadows and aspen forests along the way.
Herman Gulch Trail, one of my all-time favorite Colorado hikes, is a bit further west past Guanella Pass Road. It’s especially beautiful in the fall, one of the best times to visit Denver. Ascend 1,785 feet of elevation as you take in aspens, meadows, and at the end of the trail, a stunning alpine lake.
Mount Flora Trail
A flower-strewn trail to a 13er summit, a great training hike along Berthoud Pass.
🥾 Difficult | 6.2 miles | Google Maps | 65-minute drive from Denver | Cost: free
Mount Flora is an excellent training hike if you plan to summit a 14er! The trailhead is located at the top of Berthoud Pass. This hike has a 1,778-foot elevation gain and is true to its name — you can find alpine wildflowers growing all the way up to the summit.
Mt. Flora can be windy so you’ll want a rain jacket, a warm hat, and gloves, even in the summer. You’ll also want your camera! The views of the surrounding mountains are breathtaking.
St. Mary’s Glacier
This highly popular trail in Idaho Springs draws both hikers and backcountry skiers.
Further east in Idaho Springs, you’ll find one of the most popular hiking trails in Colorado. Join the line of visitors making their way up St. Mary’s Glacier to see panoramic views — and maybe even skiers making turns in July!
While a busy trail, St. Mary’s Glacier is one of the most popular hikes near Denver for good reason.
⛷️ Love Skiing? Some areas of the Arapaho National Forest, which is where St. Mary’s Glacier is located, receive 300+ inches of snow each year! For more late-season skiing, visit Arapahoe Basin, one of the best Colorado ski resorts.
Maryland Mountain via Historic Gilpin Tramway
This historic trail features structures and equipment from Central City’s mining days.
In Central City, north of Idaho Springs, you’ll find a lollipop loop that features historic ruins. Spot old mining shafts, structures, and equipment used back in the Gold Rush era. Views from the Maryland Mountain peak are another good reason this is one of the best hikes near Denver.
Horseshoe Trail to Frazer Meadow
This route in Golden Gate Canyon State Park is one of the area’s best hiking trails for leaf peeping.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park resides northwest of Central City. You’ll find dozens of trail options here, with Horseshoe Trail to Frazer Meadow being one of the best hikes near Denver for leaf-peeping. It’s also a great option for wildflower viewing in the summer months.
Lost Lake via Hessie Trail
A heavily trafficked trail in Nederland, leading to an alpine lake and backcountry campsites.
Northwest of Golden Gate Canyon, you’ll find the town of Nederland. Its most popular hike is Lost Lake via Hessie Trail, and for good reason. This alpine lake is loved for its spectacular views, and backcountry campsites can be found along the shore.
👉 Pro Tip: Consider taking the free shuttle from town to this trailhead, as parking is often unavailable during the busy summer months.
Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake via Mitchell Lake Trail
Views of alpine lakes and the Rocky Mountains are plentiful in Ward’s Brainard Lake Recreation Area.
North of Nederland lies the scenic Brainard Lake Recreation Area. This region is loved for its alpine lakes, and you’ll come across several on this popular hike near Denver. The trail gradually gains elevation until Blue Lake. To see this route’s last defining feature, Little Blue Lake, expect a steep, but short ascent.
An iconic trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, featuring alpine lakes and wildlife.
Even further north lies Estes Park and its pièce de résistance: Rocky Mountain National Park, the closest national park to Denver.
Hiking here is one of the best things to do in Estes Park, and no trail is more famous than Emerald Lake. Pass three alpine lakes and plenty of wildlife on this iconic Rocky Mountain National Park trek.
For other RMNP trails, see my full guide to hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Boulder Mesa Trail
See the foothills of Boulder on this lengthy, scenic trail.
Starting at Chautauqua Park, Boulder Mesa Trail gives visitors a full overview of the town’s foothills. Hike south along the Flatirons, enjoying sun and shade throughout.
Mount Sanitas and Sanitas Valley Loop Trail
A short, challenging hike that provides views of both Boulder and far-off peaks.
Since moving to Denver 7 years ago, I’ve visited Mount Sanitas more times than I can recall. It’s a short but challenging hike, perfect for some after-work exercise. Take in views of both the city and mountains, and discover what makes this one of the best things to do in Boulder.
Rattlesnake Gulch Trail
See historic ruins and varied scenery on this Eldorado Canyon State Park hike.
Located south of town, Eldorado Canyon State Park is one of the best day trips from Boulder. I love to take out-of-town visitors to this park, as its proximity to Denver and dramatic views can’t be beaten.
Rattlesnake Gulch is a great pick, as this moderate hike provides incredible canyon and mountain scenery. Stop at the Continental Divide Overlook, and visit the interesting Crags Hotel Ruins on this trail.
Located in Golden’s White Ranch Park, this trail features some of Denver’s closest backcountry camping.
Rawhide Trail in White Ranch Park lies directly south of Eldorado Canyon. Passing through forests and meadows, it features a variety of terrain.
Locals frequent this trail with their mountain bikes and backpacking gear. Surprisingly, this underrated park has backcountry campsites, which are some of the best places to camp near Denver.
Mount Galbraith Loop via Cedar Gulch Trail
Take in the mountains and the town of Golden on this great day hike.
South of White Ranch, you’ll find another of my favorite hikes near Denver: Mount Galbraith. This lollipop loop gains 929 feet of elevation but does so very gradually. Mountain views amazing, and you can even see downtown Golden from this vantage point.
Windy Saddle Lookout Mountain Trail
Admire expansive views of the Mile High City and the Continental Divide.
Just south of Mount Galbraith lies a more famous peak: Lookout Mountain. Many visitors to Denver drive up this mountain to admire views of the city. But the area is also home to several great hiking trails, including the aptly named Lookout Mountain Trail.
It passes lovely mountain views and the Lookout Mountain Nature Center, which is one of the best things to do in Golden.
Apex and Enchanted Forest Trail Loop
Though more frequented by mountain bikers, Golden’s Apex Park has lovely forested hikes.
Apex Park, the last foothill park featured in this guide, is set just southwest of Lookout Mountain. It’s largely frequented by mountain bikers, but hikers can enjoy paths like the Apex and Enchanted Forest Trail Loop, too.
Stop at open vistas that provide views of both Golden and Denver. Also, keep watch for mule deer when hiking through the area’s pine and aspen forests.
Sloan’s Lake Loop
One of Denver’s best urban hikes, having great restaurants and breweries nearby.
Sloan Lake is one of the city’s far-west neighborhoods, and its park features one of the best urban hikes near Denver. Walk the Sloan’s Lake Loop where you’ll see picnickers, roller skaters, and even boaters enjoying the area. After your stroll, pop into one of Denver’s best restaurants! The Patio at Sloans is a personal favorite.
🚣♂️ Love Lakes? Denver allows you to experience both lake and city life! See Laura’s guide to the best lakes near Denver for more info.
Lake Ladora and Lake Mary Loop Trail
See a variety of animals at Commerce City’s Rocky Mountain National Wildlife Refuge.
Northeast of the city lies Rocky Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. Trust me, visiting this unique urban park is one of the best free things to do in Denver!
Before or after experiencing the 11-mile Wildlife Drive, take a hike around Lake Ladora and Lake Mary. Here, you’ll see a variety of birds — sometimes even bald eagles. In other areas of the park, visitors can view bison, white-tailed deer, coyotes, and many other species.
👉 Pro Tip: Before exploring, stop by the visitor center to learn how this former nuclear weapons plant became a refuge.
FAQs About Denver Hikes
Where should I hike near Denver?
Some of the best hikes near Denver include Red Rocks Park, South Valley Park, Mount Galbraith Park, and other mountain parks in the foothills. Nearby state parks like Golden Gate Canyon and Staunton are also great destinations. Towns like Idaho Springs and Boulder have incredible hikes near Denver as well.
What is the closest 14er to Denver?
The closest 14er to Denver is Mt. Bierdstadt, as it relates to both distance and drive time. This peak is roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes from the city.
Thanks for reading my guide to the best hikes near Denver. Happy trails!
Help us help you travel better!
Your feedback really helps ...
What did you like about this post? Or how can we improve it to help you travel better?